Art: Choosing typefaces
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  1. #1
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    Choosing typefaces

    I'm not really sure how to apply it to my own work. I'm at the bottom of the barrel as far as using type is concerned. I googled "how to decide on a typeface" and the sites give basic information, like readability, don't stretch text, and don't use too many fonts. Those kinds of things that are obvious. I'm working on a milk ad and I think I want to use something scripted for the logo and sans-serif for everything else, similar to the typefaces in the picture, Script MT and Gill Sans. I also looked at advertising posters, but I ended up just a dumb-founded.

    Am I on the right track, way off? The text doesn't feel integrated anyway, . Maybe I need more for the advert to work? And I was advised to not color the part behind the people but that looks stupid so maybe I should. Geez, I need more help than I thought.

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  3. #2
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    Aside from the important question of why you prefer script for the headline (which you mysteriously call a "logo") and sans serif for the rest, the important thing to learn (and what I always try to teach my interns) is that type is not just words, it is ARTWORK. Like any other art, you need to learn to judge and select type for it's appropriateness to the subject, as well as it's affinity for the other typefaces you are using.

    But that is only the start. You also need to recognize the artistic essence of each typeface, and make it PART OF THE WHOLE IMAGE, not just a bunch of letters placed on a picture. In other words, for an ad, the type should improve the conveyance of the message, not detract. Simply picking the "right" font (whatever that means) isn't enough, it all comes down to what you do with that font that matters.

    Here's a quick (and admittedly flawed) two-minute layout I did showing a script head, and sans serif body:

    Name:  ElliotDairy-typ.jpg
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    As imperfect as this is, the fonts do generally work together AND with the whole image. I like the kinship between the slim, graceful script and the skinny, simple look of the sans serif.

    There is no easy answer to picking type. It will only come with practice.

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    Thankyou for your reply. As to why I used script for the brand name and sans serif for everything else, I figured since it's a (very small) body of type, that it would be easier to read that way. I'll try out more things.

    And another question. How does one go about utilizing type as an art, which sounds more abstract and touchy-feely? I pretty much know how to go about learning to draw. You draw, study fundamentals, fix what's wrong, wash rinse repeat. I didn't expect people to come in here and start linking to tutorials because that's dumb but were do you start with something as subjective as type. How did you learn, or how do you introduce type to interns/students? Is it the same way as learning to draw?

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    I believe the most important step in learning typography is to become aware of type in your daily life. One of the first things I do with interns is take them to the grocery store with the specific goal of opening their eyes to the many ways type is used, and the many varieties of styles and combinations.

    Once you start to see typography everywhere, you eventually begin to make judgements on what works, what doesn't, and what your personal preferences are.

    Then, after a period of time (could take weeks to years, really - depends on the person), you begin to recognize that letterforms are as diverse as any other artform, and you become more and more sensitive to the "personalities" of typefaces, their history, and their appropriate usage.

    At that point, Grasshopper, you will have experience and knowledge to do type with confidence and flair.

    That's the short version. Wish there were time to go into more detail, but I've got work to do.

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    I spent my free time today looking at advertisements and posters. And paying more attention to how the types look next to each other.

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    Looks much better. I suggest moving the lower text up out of the table - the slightly darker background inhibits the text, in my view.

    I think like most other skills, typography is first learned through mimicry - you copy techniques that appeal to you - then you gain enough confidence to add your own interpretations and variations.

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    The black text was too harsh so I colored it.

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    There you go. You have learned to use type as an art element in visual communication. Before you know it, you'll be on the cover of Type Magazine (if Type Magazine actually existed).

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  14. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by sigmadog View Post
    There you go. You have learned to use type as an art element in visual communication. Before you know it, you'll be on the cover of Type Magazine (if Type Magazine actually existed).
    I'm currently on break at my joe job. You have no idea how encouraging this post is.

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    the difference in the last piece here and the one in the original post is night and day. thats some fast progression there Nicole.

    i think of type as having personalities. every font/typeface has a personality, culture, and history. for some things (say a logo) i might work in the direction of a specific personality. like "this is a company that has an adventurous and courageous brand, and its logo should be like Indiana Jones". that can be a good start.

    also it pays to know the history of fonts. if you were doing something that looks like an ad from the 1950's, you wouldnt want to use a font made in 1995. that appropriateness goes a long way. the culture part is like the difference between the staples of each niche. in baseball, scripts are very common and will never be out of style. in football, its slab serifs and blocks.

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